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tv   This Week in Northern California  PBS  March 12, 2011 1:30am-2:00am PST

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captioning by vitac, underwritten by fireman's fund as japan continues after the earthquake strong waves are felt on the west coast. >> the elected officials find themselves bogged down. >> belva: governor brown is holding last-minute budget negotiations with republicans after missing his self imposed deadline for a special election. california's 2010 census data reveals which communities and ethnic populations are gaining
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ground throughout the state. and the police corruption scandal in san francisco widens with more than 50 criminal cases dropped by d.a. george gascone, coming up next. good evening. welcome to this week in northern california. joining me tonight on our news panel are, rachel gordon, city hall reporter with the "san
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francisco chronicle." scott shafer, host of the california report on kqed public radio 88.5 fm. and josh richman, legal and political affairs reporter for the oakland tribune. and tom vacar, consumer editor for ktvu news. tom, you were at the uss -- >> usgs today. >> belva: what did you find out there and what is the latest they could tell you? >> probably the most astonishing idea is many of us raeb the low ma quake. this was 1,000 times stronger in japan. really a biblical proportion. you have to go back 1,000 years in the geologic record to see the tsunami situation they had. having said all of that, not too many hours later, that tsunami spread across the pacific, rammed in the to hawaii and came to the west coast and did some significant damage if cress stent city, ft. bragg and we
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will be talking about santa cruz. one person in crescent city who thought he would be brave and go out and take pictures in the river ended up being lost and probably dead. many coastal roads were closed. beaches were closed, including right here in san francisco. b.a.r.t. was not closed but the ferry stopped three runs out of concern for possible problems in the bay. and many flights to japan were out and out cancelled. and those that were in the air already were diverted to other places like osaka and even one went in to an air force base. so it is, all in all, an amazing thing. but the damage to california is significant. so much so that the governor, jerry brown declared four counties, del norte, santa cruz, san mateo an emergency situation and they will receive aid. that's the nuts and bolts of what happened. >> let's turn to paul rogers in
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santa cruz now. >> belva: you are in santa cruz and witnessed the damage as it took place? >> yeah. i was at the santa cruz harbor from about 9:00 a.m. on. the first surges came in around 8:00, and then another really big surge occurred at 11:15 a.m. when i was there and it was remarkable. i have lived in santa cruz for 22 years and never seen anything like this. it broke up about 30 boats, either flipped these large boats over, sunk them outright, smashed them in to other boats. at one point, when it came in again, people had gotten too close to the harbor and police, on loud speakers, were yelling, evacuate immediately, big wave coming and people were rushing, hundreds of people rushing up the hills, tripping over each other and by lunchtime there was a jet ski in the water, smashed up against the jetty without a rider. diesel fuel all over the water. 20-foot sections of wooden dock
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that had floated out to the ocean and muddy soup of plastic bottles, life jackets. they are estimating the damage is $15 million right now. >> belva: at first it didn't seem as though california was going to be really injured much by that, the first waves under three feet on the coastline there. >> that's the problem with tsunamis. many people think it is one tidal wave, one thing and in fact it is multiple waves that come and very often the second, third or fourth wave maybe the strongest of all of those waves. while they may not be high, the fact is they have a lot of high water behind them that keeps coming and coming. in this case, the multiple waves kept coming in and they would come in to a place like, for example, crescent city. how much damage happens, really is a junction of according to the usgs is to how the bay is oriented in to the incoming wave
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and how shallow, how small the bay is and how the water enters youchl get a toilet bowl kind of effect going on there. if you have a smaller bay, what happens is it goes in there and wreaks havoc. on a biggest es tu ware like the san francisco bay where a lot of water moves in and out and there is a tremendous am of water already there is much less problem but on the smaller bays they are highly vulnerable. >> b.a.r.t. was saying if the waves up north got to a certain level they were going to shut down the system. what is the relationship there? >> the concern is if too much water came to the san francisco bay and drive the overall level up, which is a distinct possibility. imagine if it comes up over the shoreline and comes up market street an starts to dump down to the muni and b.a.r.t. and gets to the tunnel and all of that stuff. that's a real problem in a major quake. and then what you have to do, you have to worry about life safety and everything else.
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they were careful so they didn't have a situation where they had people on trains that were either going to be stuck in water or possibly buried in water. that's what they thought about. >> what about our tsunami warning system in california. this was shored up several years ago in san francisco and other places. do we know if it worked? were any sirens going off to evacuate people? japan is suppose tobd one of the most disaster prepared countries in the world but there seems to be nothing they could have done to prepare for this. >> i think in the pecking order japan is first and hawaii is second because they deal with tsunamis on a fairly regular basis. california did reasonably well. most believe that people were informed largely because the media was there and informed people and of course people were mesmerized by what they had seen the evening before in japan and we heard it was coming. that is sufficient warning for most people. having said that there were plenty of spectators wint to the water -- went to the water and wanted to see what was going on.
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>> everyone wanted to put their own film up. >> paul, you -- >> belva: paul, you said you went down there and were there most of the morning. why did you go down there. >> i'm a newspaper reporter. and i will tell you, just in terms of the action on the coast, both san mateo county and santa cruz county had voluntary evacuations early this morning. literally thousands of people evacuated from places like pacifica, half moon bay, santa cruz, capitol la. some drove up as high as the skyline ridge area, 2,000 feet in the mountains, which if you think about it is overkill. the size of the biggest waves are 20 to 30 feet. you wouldn't have to go that far. on the other hand, there were surfers running to the waves and getting in there and we have photos and we heard accounts of when the water first rushed out around 8 a.m., you know, it rushed very far away from the shoreline.
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and people, who were surfing in santa cruz near the boardwalk were suddenly standing in ankle-deep water. some of them ran back in and some didn't. >> belva: i want to ask you, tom, again. was there any concern about the nuclear power plant and leaks from there? is that any concern for california? >> there should be no concern for california. dee yab low canyon is fine but in japan there are a couple of nuclear power plants there because a third of our electricity comes from nuclear power. one had to start venting radioactive gas and there was concern about being able to keep one of the containment vessels cool enough. that's an ongoing problem there. whether or not that will rise to the level of being a real emergency, we know the people around there were evacuated. >> belva: as interesting as this is i have to move to another emergency which is the california budget. the governor's attempt to get something done with the legislature. >> you want to avoid all nuclear
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option metaphors with regard to the budget for a while obviously. we had this self imposed deadline that governor brown set yesterday to get the legislature to vote on his tax and budget cut proposal. the idea was that would leave enough time to call a special election to let voters decide whether to do a five-year extension of existing car and taxes. we are hoping to get a deal next week. the state senate pro testimony says possibly as early as monday if they can negotiate enough over the weekend. the governor has five moderate senators hoping to work out a deal. they are holding out for a pension reform and perhaps other things. brown said they are trying to come up with a pension reform proposal on the fly. it's all dynamic. >> do you have a sense of the bottom line? what are the republicans holding out for? what do they have to have?
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what would they like to have? and what are they willing to let go of? >> it is hard to tell. the governor is only negotiating with five republicans. the rest are refusing to vote in favor of this special election, because they don't believe voters should even be asked to extend these taxes. these five are sort of holding out for pension, regulatory reform, government changes, budgeting changes, which is what a lot of the chambers of commerce and other business groups that came to governor brown's support said they would like to see as well. except they said, we're going to support this on the condition you get to that next rather than right now. >> let me ask you about the chamber of commerce support. that was a big deal for the governor to get that. >> they didn't endorse it. >> but they said they aren't going to fight it which is important because they have a lot of money to fight measures. is that having any sway with the republicans? we have always heard republicans, no taxes, we want
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reforms, but do they want to move or just get in to a partisan fight with the democrats? >> the thinking is that having all of the business groups, not just chambers of commerce like san francisco and oakland and los angeles come to the support of the plan, but also groups like the bay area council and the silicone valley leadership group. today there were two dozen agricultural groups, though not the farm bureau, threw their support behind it. the idea is this would give political cover 0 the republicans who would cross the aisle and vote in favor of it. but you have to look at the way all of these groups are phrasing their statements and the way they are rolling these out. budget cuts are necessary, but can be costly in terms of lost jobs and services. letting the voters decide if temporary tax measures should be extended is appropriate but will evaluate those measures when they are formulated. so they are not saying we want you to raise taxes. they are saying, all right, let the voters decide, let's break
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the logjam and do this but we want you to address other things of concern. >> is this whistling past the graveyard? and the graveyard being it doesn't get on the ballot or the public says no to the extensions. is that really something they are talking about or thinking this is not a possibility. >> when is this not whistling past the graveyard in the past ten years you can recall of budget negotiations in sacramento. the idea of having a special election on june 7th is that falls before the june 15th constitutional deadline for passing a budget. we never meet that deadline, right? it would be a shocker if we actually did this year. and there's still room for the legislature to shorten the election preparation schedule. we could still have a vote on june 7th, even if they get the deal next week or if it happens in july, it happens in july. but there is a chance, there's going to be a strong campaign for and against these taxes if it comes to a special election. >> can i ask one question?
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the democrats are in the majority. we talk very little about them and the five that are talking about negotiating, are they negotiating to let taxes go on the ballot. >> yes. >> belva: not to say they would support. >> i don't think you will ever get any of these senators to be in favor of extending those taxes, but what they are saying is we will let it go to a special election and let the voters decide on this if you can show us you are serious about pension reform, long-term budget reform, regulatory rollbacks. >> and those five are more moderate. >> generally, yes. >> sort of swing districts. >> can i ask a question about the governor politically on this? >> come in confident den cocky he could do this. is he having second thoughts on wanting to be governor? is he up to the task? it seems like if he gets a road block there he is going a different direction.
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>> i don't get the sense that he's demoralized necessarily by missing yesterday's deadline. i think, if you look at the language he's using, he keeps rolling out expressions of support day after day after day. he's confident they are on track to reach some sort of deal, pos my as early as next week. >> belva: i go back to the democrats again who are in the majority. is the governor confident they will negotiate with him to the end that his republican five -- >> they are -- i think he is confident the democrats will support a special election. when it comes to specific cuts, i had swanson from the east bay say he's not in favor of voting to abolish free enterprise agencies zones. >> doesn't he have to agree on those things to get the five votes. >> the republicans aren't hot about the redevelopment abolition either. but there is a balance that has to be struck. i think the governor is more
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concerned right now with getting some republican votes for this plan. at the moment he has none than with keeping his own party in line. >> there's optimism that even as early as monday. >> never know. >>. >> belva: never know. well, there are a few things we do know. the census, the latest one, is in and it will determine some political futures as well as a lot of funding. so tell us about that, scott shafer. >> the 2010 data came out this week and showed california is a bigger place. we knew that. it has grown by 10%. we got more information on the racial ethnic makeup of the state. the biggest, fastest growing group, asian americans grew by 31%. and latinos by 21% and a slight dip in the overall percentage of the population that african-americans are in california. and also slight dip in the percentage of white folks who live here as well. what it means is that political representation is going to change as well.
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this information goes to the redistricting that will draw the political lines for the 2012 elections and what it shows is the coast is not growing as fast as the inland counties. the bay area, for example, nine-county bay area grew by 5% in each county. compare that with plaser county or river side, they grew by 40%. so you can see the shift, over the course of the decade has been from the coast to the inland areas and that will be reflected in the new congressional lines, the bay area will probably lose one seat. you might see two seats combined in to one. maybe we will see a retirement of someone like pete stark over from east bay, not to predict anything but something like that could happen. and the inner part of the state, inland empire, central valley, perhaps will gain a seat. so you are going to see that shift of power perhaps as well. >> does this have anything to do with the housing patterns, where
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housing was being built over that last decade? and wasn't that housing primarily interior? because on the coast you couldn't have the kind of growth you would have in building. >> we saw a housing boom and that's the interesting thing about the data here. it's ten years. so you see the dot-com bust is in here. the real estate boom is in here. and now the recession is in there as well. there was a lot of housing built in contra costa, brentwood. and inland places where the populations went up. cheaper housing, better schools perhaps, safer neighborhood s, all drew people out of places like oakland which saw a 2% drop in its population in to places where housing was more affordable. of course sadly a lot of those folks lost their homes during the foreclosure crisis. but overall the state department of finance pointed out there is 2% more housing stock on the market now than there was in
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2000 and that reflects the overbuilding that happened and the foreclosures and the number of people losing their homes. >> scott, talk about the political power. we see a big rise in the latino population here. and yet latinos aren't voting in great numbers for a myriad of reasons. is that going to change? will people try to tap in to that? and if they do vote, does it make it more democratic, more conservative or status quo? >> the share of the electorate of the latino has been growing and the reason it is lower than the population is a lot of the folks are not citizens or haven't registered to vote. now you have the children of immigrants who are in the schools and in the coming decade will be of voting age themselves and you will see the electorate more latino and asian. it will better reflect the dem gral graphics-demographics as the whole. right now it is 70% white.
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so that will change. you have latinos and asians moving from the cities in to contra costa county, stockton, river side. they are taking with them the more democratic politics. those parts of the state will be more blue or less red is a better way to describe it. >> are these folks voters? are these folks that are leaving and going there voters or are they going to go there and live? >> certainly the children, as they grow up, they are now in public schools in many cases, they are becoming more political sized and more part of the civic conversation, i think i you could say. that's not good news for the republican party of course. not only here in california but nationwide you are seeing republican positions on things like immigration, education cuts and so on is really driving, especially latinos, to a lesser extnts asian americans away from the republican party. >> we are seeing less of the
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monolithic ethnic vote. you can't say they are going to all vote for one candidate for or against something. it seems interest have spread out and demands are different. >> it is all true that all latinos don't vote for the latino candidate, if so, molatano would be the governor right now, perhaps. >> belva: let's talk about a critical problem right now with the police force in san francisco. >> a new, emerging police scandal in san francisco. we aren't sure how big it is going to grow or if it is contained to what we know right now. this was brought to life by the public defender saying, what he is saying is he has video surveillance tapes from residential hotels that show, what he says is that police went in to these rooms without a search warrant or consent of the occupants there. and not donnell they have illegal searches but when they testified in court about it, they perchered themselves
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because it was based on false testimony. it has quickly had major fallout. there have been 57 criminal cases so far. mostly drugs. some robbery cases that have been dismissed by the d.a. d.a., also by the courts that stepped in a bit. just today, on friday, the district attorney george gascone who happened to be the police chief at the time, this was late fall, earlier this year, that he has rekuzed himself from this thing. his office, the district attorney's office isn't going to be investigating it and he turned it over to the justice department. the u.s. attorneys office is in there. the police department is doing an internal problem. it is seven officers, police officers, under cover and their sergeant have been implicated in this. >> when gascone was appointed district attorney by the outgoing mayor there was a concern of a conflict of interest and even though he has taken his office out of the investigation he knows where a lot of the bodies were buried in the police department. is he going to be involved in
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the investigation as a source for the fbi? >> he could be. don't forget he will be on the ballot in november. this is the worst time it could happen for a candidate under his watch. his hand-picked successor, jeff, who is the interim police chief now, is saying he is taking this seriously and they worked in los angeles together, worked closely together. i think it is fodder probably in the district attorney's race. it was probably politically astute of him to get out of the investigation at this point. he also was very clear saying this wasn't about conflict. it was about information that came to light. he didn't share what that information might have been. the question is, is it going to spread, is it one unit south of market area, mission district, or is it going to be perhaps other areas? >> what was the m.o. in these situations? what were the police doing that got caught on video? >> they had master keys to residential hotels. so they are saying they had the
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keys. they had a suspect. they suspected someone had drugs in their room or stolen property, whatever it may be, or the suspects there themselves they used master keys to get in the rooms and pull people out. you have to either have a search warrant to go in without consent or knock on the door saying may i come in to do that. i know i said earlier on the youtube culture, we have seen this everywhere. there are cameras on cell phones and on street corners and buildings. and that's what happened. the public tfder asked can we get the surveillance tapes to see what happened and that brought it to life. >> belva: did jeff think this had been going on for a long time or a new event? what is the history behind it? >> he is saying it could go back for years. he has asked for seven years on this. he wants to see if the cameras were there and if the specific police officers have been involved in other arrests. he wants to go through every case. it is 57 now.
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could it be thousands of cases? this is a year after san francisco was embroiled in the crime lab, the drugs lab scandal where one technician was suspected of stealing drugs that were there. and that forced san francisco to toss out a lot of other cases. >> you hang around the police a lot and city hall. what is their morale? it has to have a negative impact with stuff building up? >> i think police feel under siege in many ways. there's a morale issue. to be frank, they are going we think there are bad things in there, are we going to go there, as they should legally and get a search warrant. they want to get the stuff and not have someone slam a door in their face. that's one thing. they just want to do the right thing and get the bad guys behind bars. >> belva: that's what they were encouraged to do, break up the drug trafficking. >> and now a lot of the cases will be tossed out and they are
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searching for a police chief in san francisco. that will play in to this a lot. >> thank you for joining us tonight for this great discussion. >> belva: that's all the time we have. you can visit to watch complete episodes and segments. subscribe to our news letter and podcasts and share your thoughts about the program. i'm belva davis. good night.
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